The Munchkins Visit Fort Collins: The Commercial Bank & Trust Co

According to Ansel Watrous’ History of Larimer County, Colorado, the Commercial Bank & Trust Co. was established on May 23, 1906. Located at 146 North College Avenue, B. F. Clark was the first president. If we are to believe its 1914 letterhead, L. C. Moore was now the president and Munchkins were visiting our city. Below are scans of the full letterhead and an enlargement of their logo.

Letterhead B680
Commercial Bank & Trust Letterhead, 1914.
Letterhead Monogram B420
Commercial Bank Logo, 1914.

The Munchkins, the diminutive creatures in Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were obviously in town for the day. If I’ve done the math correctly, the smartly dressed homunculi are approximately two-feet, three-inches tall, short even for normal Munchkins who were around four-feet tall in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie.

Why haven’t we heard of this visitation before? Was there a government cover-up?

Below is a Munchkin-less photograph I took of the Commercial Bank & Trust Co in 2009. At that time, the bar was called the Vault. Today, it is the High Point Bar.

The Commercial Bank & Trust Co. is a Fort Collins Landmark Building.

Commercial Bank 2009 B680
Commercial Bank & Trust Co, 2009

The Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, Laporte, Colorado

In 1912, the Colorado Agricultural School (now CSU) established a department of Rural and Industrial Education. Their mission was to study rural education in the state, a state still sparsely populated with many rural school districts, and to recommend changes for rural schools on a state-wide basis. It didn’t take long for them to identify the major problems; small, weak, and inefficient district school organizations, untrained and inexperienced teachers, and inadequate school buildings and equipment. The solution was also plainly obvious to them – consolidation – and one of their earliest experiments was Larimer County and what would become the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, in Laporte, Colorado.

On July 4, 1913, the cornerstone was laid for the new school. According to the Fort Collins Weekly Courier, over 300 people witnessed the “imposing ceremony.” Many luminaries spoke at the ceremony that the newspaper called “one of the broadest steps in education ever made in Northern Colorado.

One of the speakers was Charles A. Lory, President of CAC. He reminded the audience of college’s long-time effort in rural education, thanked a number of people who were involved in the school’s planning, and closed by telling the audience that “the college’s telephone system [was] connected at all times with the Laporte district and that all they had to do was to call the college and anything that institution could do to help would be done promptly and cheerfully.”

In October 1913, the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, consolidating six small rural schools, opened for business with 181 students, from first grade through high school.

01 Cache La Poudre RPPC c1910 B680
Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, Laporte, CO, c. 1913.

In 1918, CAC released a report entitled, “Rural School Improvement in Colorado.” Around a dozen consolidated schools were reported on in detail, including the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School. According to the CAC report, the new school consolidated five rural school districts and parts of two adjoining districts. Six old buildings were abandoned and were replaced by “a beautiful structure of brick and stone, costing $30,000.” Here is how the school is described in the report:

“The basement story, all above ground, is made of Colorado red sandstone, quarried from the red cliffs within the district, while the two other stories of red pressed brick. There are about 15 rooms in the building. It is modern as to heating, lighting, and ventilation and has indoor toilets, and its drinking fountains are supplied with pure and cold mountain water. . . . Nine rooms are used for classroom work. The large school and community auditorium will seat 350 and the manual training teacher and his family live in five rooms on the ground floor.”

Below is the full-page image of the school, used in the report.

02 Cache La poudre School Rural Schools 1918 B420
Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, CAC Report, 1918.

Transportation was obviously as important to the school consolidation effort as the new schools. The new Laporte school used six wagons to move students around the consolidated district. The wagons were purchased from the Delphi Wagon Company in Indiana. One local writer said the wagons “were not unlike the wagons used . . . for conveyance of prisoners from one jail to another.” The wagons were fitted with side curtains to protect the students from weather. When the snow was high, the wheels were replaced with bobsleds to make sure students could attend school.

The report also featured three other views of the school, which, along with their captions, are reproduced below:

03 Jersey Cow B680

04 Hay Rack B680

05 Domestic Econ B680

As the county grew, so did the school system. Changes occurred to the consolidated school as reported in the history section of the Cache La Poudre Elementary School website. In 1949, the present day Cache La Poudre Middle School was built and called the Cache La Poudre High School. The consolidated school was then used for kindergarten through 9th grade. In 1964, Poudre High School was built and the old high school became the junior high school. Finally, in 1974, the original brick building was knocked down and the new Cache La Poudre Elementary School was built in its place.

100th Post: Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade

This is my 100th post on Fort Collins Images. I decided that the best way to mark my milestone was by sharing parade images from one of the biggest Fort Collins celebrations, the Semi-Centennial of 1914.

In 1914, Fort Collins reached its 50th birthday. They celebrated with a three day party, from Thursday, July 2, through Saturday, July 4. The Fort Collins Courier reported that to celebrate Fort Collins’ fiftieth anniversary “no expense has been too great and no task to stupendous for those in charge of the arrangements for the celebration and for the thousands which are expected to throng to Fort Collins to help her celebrate.” Each day there was a parade. I believe all of these images come from the Friday parade advertised as the “Grand free street parade covering the business district.”

I hope you’ll enjoy these images of one of Fort Collins largest events and that you will continue to support the Fort Collins Images blog.

Semi centenial Glad Tidings 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller.  “Publish Glad Tidings.”
Semi Centenial Buffalo Cart 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Buffalo Cart.
Semi Centenial Golden Rulel 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller.  Golden Rule Store.
Semi centenial Pony Cart 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Pony Cart.
Semi Centenial Lambs Fed 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. “Lambs fed in Northern Colorado during 1914 would make a train 30 miles long.”
Semi Centenial Steer Burro Riders 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. Boy riding steer.
Semi Centenial Nelsom Clothing Biplane 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. Nelson and Eaton Clothing bi-plane.
Semi Centenial First National 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. First National Bank.
Semi Centenial Pioneers 50 Years B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. “We will be pioneers fifty years from now.”
Semi Centenial Baptist 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. Baptist’s “Send the Gospel to all Nations.”
Semi Centenial Elks 804 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Elks, Lodge 804.
Semi Centenial Wisdom Folly 1914 B680
Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. “Wisdom and folly wait on liberty.”

Zimmerman’s Keystone Hotel, a Stanley Steamer, and a Mountain Lion

John Zimmerman and his brother, Michael, arrived in the Poudre Canyon around 1881. When the Zimmermans arrived, they were searching for gold. It would take awhile, but in 1888 they opened their Elkhorn Mine, north of milepost 89 on Colorado Highway 14.

The Zimmerman brothers had a problem common to all the miners in the area–low-grade ore and expensive transportation. The brothers decided to build a stamp mill, a machine that breaks the ore up by pounding it with heavy steel plates called stamps. The gold was recovered by washing the slurry over a mercury-coated copper plate. The mill was in operation in 1890 but an 1891 flood destroyed it, leaving just the chimney. It never reopened and John Zimmerman moved on, eventually opening the Keystone Hotel.

01 Keystone Front View B680
Keystone Hotel, Front View, Postmarked 1915.

John Zimmerman’s Keystone Hotel, at what is now milepost 84.5, was the premier resort in the canyon for decades. The hotel was started in the mid-1890s and was built with bricks made on site. The Fort Collins Courier announced its completion on July 22, 1897, calling the setting “one of the most picturesque locations imaginable . . . surrounded by some of the wildest and grandest of mountain views in the world.” The building itself was huge for the canyon, three-stories, 35 x 66 feet, with 16 bedrooms, a billiard hall, a barbershop, and other amenities. The covered front porch, shown in the first image, soon became the gathering place for guests.

02 Keystone Wide View pm1908 B680
Wide View of the Keystone Hotel Area, Postmarked 1908.
03 Keystone Wide View closeup B680
 Close-up of Previous Image Showing the Main Building.

The resort was an immediate success. Within one month of opening the resort, Zimmerman was running a twice-a-week stage from Fort Collins to the Keystone Hotel. By the summer of 1899 the stage ran daily, carrying passengers to the hotel and mail to the Home, Colorado, post office, now located at the resort. It took almost 12 hours to make the trip from Fort Collins to the Keystone and cost $3.

04 Keystone From Bridge pm1908 B680
Bridge to Keystone Hotel, Postmarked 1908.

John Zimmerman’s son, Casper, supervised construction of this bridge across the Poudre River. It was completed circa 1890, allowing the Zimmermans to start construction on the future resort. Sturdier structures would take its place but certainly this was the most charming. Below is a Stanley Steamer on the bridge circa 1910.

06 Stanley Steamer c1910 B680
1909 Stanley Steamer Model Z on Bridge to Keystone Resort, c. 1910.

I know very little about antique cars. Fortunately, the internet allows me to contact auto experts who are always willing to share their knowledge. Pat Farrell, a Stanley Steamer expert, sent this information on the automobile in the photograph.

“Using the same engine that set the land speed record at 127 MPH in 1906, this is a 1909 Stanley Model Z, nine passenger, 30 HP Mountain Wagon.  It was developed in 1908 for hauling passengers from Colorado Springs and Fort Collins to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.  Because of its hill climbing ability, several transportation companies in the Rocky Mountain area quickly came into being while using the new Model Z Stanley Mountain Wagon.  By 1912, the Stanley Mountain Wagon had become a 12 passenger Mountain.Wagon.  The last year for the Mountain Wagon production was 1917.”

One of the interesting stories of the Keystone Hotel concerns the mountain lion shown below.

07 Lion c1907 B680
Mountain Lion, “Terror of the Rockies,” Photograph by Eda Zimmerman, 1907.

According to the March 20, 1907, edition of the Fort Collins Courier, this huge mountain lion had killed one of John Zimmerman’s colts. Setting a spring trap, Zimmerman found the beast with one foot secure in its jaws. After numerous attempts, he was able to drag the animal into a position where his daughter, Eda, could take this picture. Some skeptics believe the lion was killed and mounted before the photograph was taken.

After the Keystone Resort finally closed despite Agnes Zimmerman’s desperate attempts to keep it going, the land was acquired by the Colorado Department of Game and Fish, now the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The purchase included all of the resort buildings along with John Zimmerman’s reservoir and fish ponds. The hotel was razed in the summer of 1946.

08 Trout Ponds Miller B680
Trout Ponds, Poudre Canyon, c. 1940. Photograph by Mark Miller.

Today, a fish-rearing operation provides stock for several Colorado waterways. Visitors are welcome at the ponds (Milepost 83.8)—without fishing poles, of course, and without the family dog. Hatchlings are delivered to the ponds to be fed a carefully controlled diet until fully grown and ready for transport to a lake or river—where fishing poles are welcome.

Next week, watch for a very old and interesting photograph of a landmark Fort Collins’ building and a possible tie to a silent film icon.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks #804

The Elks are a fraternal and social organization that got its start in 1868 as a social club in New York City, but it took a long time for an Elks Lodge to open in Fort Collins, CO. The Elks had a rule that a town had to have a population of at least 5,000 residents before it could charter its own lodge. Fort Collins was struggling to get to there.

In 1900, Boulder, CO was able to start a lodge and a number of Fort Collins residents became members of the Boulder Lodge, inconveniently commuting to the meetings by train. By 1902, the Fort Collins Elks were beating the drum for their own lodge. While the 1900 census recorded just over 3,000 Fort Collins residents, the Fort Collins Elks believed that the recent growth of the town would show that its population now exceeded the target. To prove it, they asked for a “post office census” and in July 1902 the post office confirmed that over 5,000 residents received mail at the Fort Collins post office.

Though the exact date is a little fuzzy, the Fort Collins Lodge, #804, was quickly up and running and trying to find a building of their own. In November, 1902, the Elks purchased a single story building that was under construction on the northeast corner of Linden and Walnut Streets. They hired A. M. Garbutt as the architect and Hiram Pierce as the contractor and preceded with plans to expand the new building to a three-story structure, with retail space planned or the first floor and the basement and the Elks Lodge operating out of the second and third floors.

On April 27, 1904, the Weekly Courier newspaper announced the opening of the Lodge. Here is a photograph of the building from around that time and part of the newspaper announcement.

01 Elks Ext 4 c1906 B680
Fort Collins Elks Lodge, c. 1906.

The Fort Collins Elks “occupied their new lodging club room for the first time . . . and a prouder and better satisfied fraternity of men would be hard to find. In less than one year, the lodge, on a membership of about 200, bought one of the best corners in the city and has erected and furnished one of the very best club houses of its kind in the country.”

Newspaper articles praised various aspects of the new building. Even the barbershop (see the pole at the front corner of the building in the above photograph) got its share of praise.

“Harry Schreck’s nice suite of rooms and baths [has been] fixed up for his tonsorial parlors in the basement of the Elks building.”

Here are two more early images of the building.

02 Elks Ext 1 1904-18 B680
Fort Collins Elks Lodge, c. 1910.
03 Elks Ext 1 CU Stores B680
Fort Collins Elks Lodge, c. 1910. Store Front Close-up.
04 Elk Ext 2 pm1913 B680
Fort Collins Elks Lodge, Postmarked 1913.

While the building is nice, it is a little plain but the interior was what really received praise. Below are four interiors views of the building all circa 1905.

05 Elks Lodge Room c1905 B680
Elks Lodge Room, Fort Collins, c. 1905.

“The lodge room, banquet hall and club room furniture is of quarter sawed golden oak. Divans and settees are richly upholstered in black leather. The station chairs in the lodge rooms are works of art. . . In the lodge room are placed 100 arm chairs for the members. Another hundred chairs of simpler make have been provided for use on extra occasions. . . The floor of the lodge room is covered with Moquette carpet of very pleasing design.”

Interior electric lighting was still pretty new and received the attention of the reviewer as well. He remarked that the lodge room contained “138 incandescent lights and 14 two-lamp fixtures on brackets on the wall,” resulting in “soft light, fair women and brave men.”

The Exalted Rulers platform also received its share of praise. Here is a close-up of it and then two images of the piano room.

06 Elk Lodge Room Closeup c1905 B680
Elks Lodge Room, Fort Collins, c. 1905. Close-up of Front Platform.

07 Elks Piano Room c1905 B680


08 Elks Piano Room Closeeup c1905 B440
Elks Lodge Piano Room, c. 1905. 

The piano, in the lodge, was a Schomacker piano, from one of Philadelphia’s earliest and most successful piano companies. I think it was recently donated to the Discovery Museum and is now displayed near the museum’s coffee shop.

Elks, of course, were used throughout the building. Below is an image of the Elk that I think was in the entry to the meeting rooms.

09 Elk Hall Entry w Elk c1905 B680
Entry Hall with Elk, c. 1905.

Finally, here is a photograph of the billiard room at the Elks lodge. The newspaper description said, “The floor of the billiard room and the card rooms are covered in linoleum and provided with plain, but strong, well furnished chairs and card tables.”

10 Elks Pool Room c1905 B680
Elks Lodge Billiard Room, c. 1905.

The Elks used the building for over 30 years but, in 1939, they bought the YMCA building and moved to that building on East Oak Street. I covered that move in an earlier post on the YMCA building that you can see by clicking here.

The building at Walnut and Linden Streets still stands but it is now only a single floor high. It is currently the home of The Wright Life, which advertises as an alternate sports store.

The Avery Building and a 1911 E-M-F Automobile: An Extra Post

In my last post, “The Avery Block, Golden Rule Store, and Electroliers in 1905 Fort Collins,” I mentioned that the Avery Block is a Fort Collins Landmark building. It is, but it is even more. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Old Town Fort Collins Historic District. The Fort Collins Historic Preservation Office was kind enough to send this map of the protected area.

Old Town District National Reg Map B420
Boundaries of the Old Town Fort Collins Historic District

The area, shown on the map, is roughly bordered by North College Avenue, Jefferson Street, and East Mountain Avenue. The historic district is all that remains of the original plat established along lines parallel to the Cache la Poudre River in 1867. The district is contains thirty-eight historic structures and encompasses three complete blocks and portions of two other blocks.

According to the National Register nomination form, “the area is like stepping into a by-gone era. There are no newly constructed buildings within the district. The only additions are some contemporary commercial fronts.

“The pioneer history of Fort Collins is no better illustrated than in the four blocks comprising Old Town Fort Collins. From the days of the old fort through the pioneer settlers and into the 20th Century, the area carries with it the history and the spirit of the town.”

The Avery Block is the southwest corner of the Historic District.

Since I’m sending out this extra post anyway, I thought I’d add one more image of the Avery Building, a slightly newer one. Here it is:

Avery Block c1911 B680
The Avery Building, c. 1911.

It is pretty easy to broadly date photographs of Old Town. If the trolley has arrived, the image was taken in 1907 or later. If the streets aren’t paved, the image was taken earlier than 1917. So, this image, with a trolley but unpaved streets, was taken between 1907 and 1916. (Click here to see my earlier post on the Denver and Interurban Streetcars.)

Thanks to the automobile in the image and the experts at Antique Automobile Club of America, we can date this image more precisely. Here’s a close-up of the automobile, identified as a 1911 E-M-F.

1911 EMF B680
Close-up of 1911 E-M-F on North College Avenue, c. 1911.

The E-M-F was a short-lived automobile company that produced cars from 1909 to 1912 in Detroit, MI, outselling all but Ford in a couple of those years. E-M-F eventually became part of the Studebaker company. They did have some significant quality problems and the initials of their company name became known as “Every Morning Fix-it.

By 1911 it wouldn’t have been unusual to see a car downtown. By this time there were probably 200 or so cars registered in Fort Collins and shortly automobiles would replace horses in our town.

The Avery Block, Golden Rule Store, and Electroliers in 1905 Fort Collins

Vintage street images let us see what our town and life was like in the past. A flat bed scanner and a program like Photoshop can let us walk down the streets. Occasionally, I’ll take an early photograph of Fort Collins and share some of the details of the image with you. Today, I’m using a 1905 photograph of the College and Mountain Avenue intersection.

01 Mtn College 1905 8x10 Full B680
College and Mountain Avenue, c. 1905. Photograph by L. C. McClure.

Louis C. McClure was an early Denver photographer. He was a student of William Henry Jackson. Jackson is considered one of the best photographers of the American West. McClure opened a gallery in Denver and from the 1890s through the 1920s made some of the best images of his city. He closed his studio in the 1940s and donated his entire negative collection to the Denver Public Library. It is the only Fort Collins image I have seen by McClure.

This is an image of the Mountain and College Avenue intersection and Linden Street, which at the time of this photograph, extended all the way to Mountain Avenue. Now, of course, the pedestrian mall has replaced this portion of Linden Street. McClure took the photograph from the southwest corner of Mountain and College Avenue, maybe from the top of a building. Two large buildings anchor the edges of the photograph; the Northern Hotel on North College Avenue on the left side and the Elks Building (I think) at Linden and Walnut Streets on the right side. In the center is the Avery Building, a key building in Fort Collins history and a Fort Collins Landmark building.

Below is a section of a 1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of this section of town.

02 Sanborn Map 1906 Section B680
1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, College, Mountain, and Linden Area.

My copy of the image is an 8 x 10 inch print. The print has a handwritten caption on the back that identifies the image as a 1905 photograph of “the busy hub of another turn-of-the-century town scene.” What says “busy” more than horses drinking at a water tank in the middle of the busiest intersection in town?

03 Mtn College 1905 8x10 Horses at Water B680
Horses at Water Tank, College and Mountain Avenues, c. 1905.

Below is an enlargement of the left side of the image. It isn’t very sharp but you can see the new Northern Hotel at the left end. I’ve shared images of the hotel in the past. You can see those posts by clicking this Northern Hotel link.

04 Mtn College 1905 8x10 My Pano Left B680
College and Mountain Avenue – Left Side, c. 1905
05 Northern Closeup
Close-up of Northern Hotel, c. 1905.

The Northern Hotel opened in the fall of 1905, which fits the date on this photograph. I wish that this part of the image were sharper. It is certainly an early image of the Northern Hotel. There isn’t a sign that I can see so maybe the hotel was still under construction. Also, what’s up with the strange narrow awning over the main door?

The person who captioned the photograph also said, “If one looks carefully, ‘1’ auto can be identified.” Certainly it’s possible that an automobile was parked along the curb. Fort Collins had a handful of cars in 1905 and certainly early adventurers were out and about in their vehicles. The person who captioned this photograph must have had a much better magnifying glass than me, if he is sure about the automobile. Below is a super enlargement of the only thing I could find that vaguely resembles a car. It is in the center of the left-side enlargement. You can decide if it is an early automobile.

06 Left End Possible Car B420
Close-up of Possible Automobile, c. 1905.

The center of the photograph is much sharper than the left or right sides. It is essentially a photograph of the Avery Building, which, as you can see on the top of the building, was built in 1897.

07 Mtn College 1905 8x10 My Pano Center B680
College and Mountain Avenue – Center, c. 1905

Franklin C. Avery was a key figure in Fort Collins history. He platted our town, including the wide streets and the interesting triangular lots, like the one that the Avery Building fills. Avery also became the president of the First National Bank and built the Avery Building partly to house his bank. It was located on the southeast corner of the Avery Building. You can just see the door into the bank in this photograph. The Avery Building moved the Fort Collins’ shopping area south, providing a bridge between Old Town and the new business district at College and Mountain Avenues.

You might have noticed a circle with an “X” in the photograph. It seems that the thing that most interested the past owner of this photograph was the street lighting. Here’s what he said: “All these scenes were taken before the ‘Cluster Ball Electrolier’ era. Still only ‘Arc-Lights’ did the job.” Below are enlargements of the arc-light, in this photograph, and a Cluster Ball Electrolier that would replace the arc-lights in 1916.

08 Arc Lamp B420
Close-up of Arc-Light Street Lamp, c. 1905
09 Cluster Electrolier B420
Close-up of Cluster Ball Street Light, c. 1916

A little research uncovered a couple of interesting facts on the two lights. The arc-lights were apparently so bright that very few were needed to light a town. Usually one was enough to light a city block. On the other hand, they were so bright that they were almost uncomfortable to walk under.

The cluster ball street light made it to Fort Collins as part of street paving, which started in the fall of 1916. It was named by Thomas Edison, with “Electrolier” being a combination of “electrical” and “chandelier.” One selling point for the five lamp fixture was that they could be turned on in two stages. The top light could be turned on at dusk and the other four lights turned on when it was completely dark, reducing electricity usage for the town.

Owl Drugs takes up a big portion of the Avery Building in this photograph. I couldn’t find the date when Owl Drugs moved into the Avery but they were there from at least 1902 until they became Nash Drugs in 1919. An interesting sign can be seen with a magnifying glass in front of Owl Drugs. Here it is:

10 Golden Rule Store B420
Close-up of Bell Telephone Sign and Golden Rule Store, c. 1905.

It looks like a Bell Telephone sign, indicating that Owl Drugs had pay telephones for their customers. I’m always surprised by how early telephones made it to Fort Collins. The first telephones were in place in 1887. I did an earlier post on the telephone exchange. Below is a link to it:

The Telephone Exchange, 1911.

Just to the north of Owl Drugs is an interesting business, the Golden Rule Store, which you can see behind the telephone sign. The Golden Rule Store chain was owned by two Fort Collins entrepreneurs, Thomas Callahan and Guy Johnson. They believed that the golden rule, “do unto others . . .,” was the best business policy and they featured it in their store’s name. They had stores in Colorado and Wyoming, including stores in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Longmont, CO.

In 1898, they businessmen hired a young man, James C. Penny, to work in their Longmont store. The men loved Penny’s work ethic and in 1899 made him a partner in a new store in Kemmerer. WY. By 1907, Penny owned the whole chain and in 1913, with 34 stores, he changed the name to the J. C. Penny Company.

The Golden Rule Store, shown in this image, was one of the first businesses to move into the Avery Building, announcing its intent in the Fort Collins Courier in January 1897. The store ran the width of the Avery Building, from North College Avenue to Linden Street, much as Alpine Arts does today. According to an early advertisement, they sold “dry goods, clothing, suits, men’s furnishings and trunks.”

The Golden Rule Store was in place in the Avery Building until at least 1919.

Below is the Linden Street side of the image.

11 Mtn College 1905 8x10 My Pano Right B680
College and Mountain Avenue – Right Side (Linden Street), c. 1905

I’m going to end this post with a close-up of a cute young girl in a horse drawn buggy. You may ooh and aah.

12 Mtn College 1905 8x10022

Fort Collins Historic Schools

00 Multiview c1907 B680
School Multi-View Postcard, c. 1907.

Fort Collins has been proud of its schools for a long time. The town opened a kindergarten in 1880, the first kindergarten west of St. Louis, MO. It also started a four-year high school program in 1889, long before other western towns of similar size. The pride also spread to the student body. The above multi-view postcard was mailed by a proud granddaughter, Florence, c. 1907, to her grandmother. Her message reads, “Grandma, this is my school house in the right hand corner, the Remington school. I will mark it X so you will know. Florence”

Below are photographs of the early historic schools in Fort Collins. The Fort Collins Archive kindly let me use a couple of their images so that you can see all the Fort Collins early schools from the Remington School, opened in 1879, through the second Fort Collins High School opened in 1925.

There are a lot of images so I’ve kept the text to a minimum. If you want to know more about the schools, here are links to a school post Meg Dunn wrote on Forgotten Fort Collins and to the premier document on the school system, In the Hallowed Halls of Learning: The History and Architecture of Poudre School District R-1, by Historitecture, L. L. C. It is available as a pdf and can tell you anything you want to know about the history of the Poudre School system. Most of the dates and other information I’ve used come from Chapter 5 of this document.

01 Yellow Schoolhouse 091517 B680
The Yellow Schoolhouse, 115 Riverside Avenue. Photograph by M. E. McNeill, September 15, 2017.

The first building constructed for the Fort Collins School system was a simple home built at what is now 115 Riverside Avenue. It was a front-gabled, wood frame building and opened in September 1871, almost 150 years ago. It was known as the “yellow schoolhouse.” I’ve never seen an early image of the school but, fortunately, the building still exists and is shown to the left in a photograph I took this week. It is designated a local historic landmark.

As the town grew, the need for a bigger school became apparent. The answer was a sturdy, square, brick structure at 318 Remington Street. The Remington School opened in 1879 and featured gaslights, central heating, and three teachers. Below is an image of the school, courtesy of the Fort Collins Archives.

02 Remington c1900 h02957 B680
Remington Street School, c. 1900. Fort Collins Archive, H02957.

The Remington School was razed in the late 1960s to make room for the DMA Plaza senior housing.

Only a few years after the Remington School was built, the need for another school became clear. The Benjamin Franklin School, on the southwest corner of Mountain Avenue and Howes Street, was completed in 1887, serving third- through eighth-grade students. Below are photographs of the school, from two different sides.

03 Franklin c1890 Bunn B680
Franklin School, c. 1890. Photograph by E. F. Bunn.
04 Franklin c1890 Bunn Doorway B420
Franklin School Detail, c. 1890. Photograph by E. F. Bunn.
05 Franklin c1910 B680
Franklin School, c. 1910.
06 Franklin c1910 Roof Detail B680
Franklin School Detail, c. 1910.

The Franklin School was a large, square, two-story structure. The large chimneys, projecting from the roof, helped communicate a sense of massiveness that wasn’t felt when looking at the Remington School. The completion of this building must have added to the growing civic pride of our small town.

The school boasted electric lighting and other modern conveniences. It was also the home to the district’s first high school – an experiment – that began in two classrooms. The high school graduated four girls and one boy in 1891. The building was torn down in 1959 to make room for Steele’s Market that itself was demolished in 2010.

High school enrollment soon justified a separate high school. The new school was designed by Fort Collins’ architect, Montezuma Fuller, and completed in 1903. It was located at 417 South Meldrum Street.

08 Orig HS dated 1906 B680
Fort Collins High School, 417 South Meldrum Street, 1906.
09 Orig HS c1910 B680
Fort Collins High School, 417 South Meldrum Street, c. 1910.
10 Orig HS Reception Hall 1912 B680
Fort Collins High School Reception Hall, 1912.

There were staircases on both sides of the school. Boys entered the school on the south and girls used the north entrance, with each having a separate lunchroom. Below are two images of the school in 1912.

11 Orig HS Class 1912 B680
Fort Collins High School 1912 Senior Boys.

The high school was expanded twice, to the south in 1916 and to the north in 1921. Below is a color postcard of the school after the 1916 addition.

11a Orig HS w Addition c1916 B680
Fort Collins High School, 417 South Meldrum Street, with South Wing, c. 1916.

Upon completion of the new high school, this building became Lincoln Junior High School. In 1977, parts of the school were torn down and parts were incorporated into the new Lincoln Center.

Fort Collins student population continued to grow quickly and in 1906/1907 the school district made a decision to build a pair of twin schools – both built from the same set of plans. Architectural critics decried it as unimaginative but the practice provided fast growing school systems with efficiencies of time and money. Montezuma Fuller was again hired as the architect. In 1906, the Laurel Street School opened, followed in 1907 by the Laporte Avenue School. Below is an image of the Laporte Avenue School, circa 1910, along with a close-up of the students clustered at the main entrance, the most notable architectural feature of the building.

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Laporte Avenue School Postmarked 1910.
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Laporte Avenue School Close-up, Postmarked 1910.

The Laporte Avenue School was razed in 1975 but the Laurel Street School, located east of College Avenue, continues to serve the school district as Centennial High School, with a new addition that doubled the size of the school.

Another set of twin elementary schools followed in 1919 – The George Washington and Abraham Lincoln Schools. The two schools marked a departure from the earlier, box-shaped schools. The buildings reflected an era of reform in education, exemplifying a move from the school as a place for moral inspiration to the school as a place efficient learning. Below is a photograph of the George Washington School, circa 1919, courtesy of the Fort Collins Archive.

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George Washington School, c. 1919. Fort Collins Archive, H15893.

The schools are classified as “mutedly Craftsman” in architectural style. Architecturally, the buildings sported brackets and exposed rafter ends but the important design change was the interior, with smaller, more intimate classrooms arranged around a core of offices and a gymnasium/auditorium.

The George Washington School was located at 233 South Shields Street and is now the home of Colorado State University’s Early Childhood Center.

The Abraham Lincoln School, located at 501 East Elizabeth Street, changed names to Harris Elementary School in 1939 and is now the Harris Bilingual School.

By 1919, it was clear that Fort Collins needed a new high school but voters weren’t ready to support the construction of a new school. The north addition to the old high school was constructed as a compromise. The board kept pushing for a new high school and a committee was established to investigate the need for the school and possible sites. Voters slowly came around and in 1923, funding for the new school was approved.

Still, arguments persisted over the cost and the location of the proposed school. Finally, Louis Clark Moore, a prominent Fort Collins businessman and the treasurer of the school board, donated land to the district. The new high school would be built at 1400 Remington Street; a location many residents complained was too far out of town.

The Fort Collins High School opened in 1925. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style, with symmetrical wings extending from a central portico crowned by a white-painted cupola. Below is an image of the school shortly after completion.

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Fort Collins High School, 1400 Remington St., 1925.

The building featured a cafeteria, a full kitchen, a library, and a modern auditorium. The portico consisted of slender and extremely tall Doric columns. Here are a couple more images of the school:

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Fort Collins High School Portico, 1400 Remington St., 1925, Photograph by Mark Miller.
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Fort Collins High School, 1400 Remington St., 1935.

Used until the new Fort Collins High School on Timberline Road was built in 1995, it is now the Colorado State University Center for the Arts.

According to In the Hallowed Halls of Learning, the high school on Remington Street was the last Fort Collins’ school designed in a historically inspired style. Later schools were built in a modern or postmodern style.

Poudre Canyon: The Rustic House and Resort

Long before the lower canyon road was opened through the Big and Little Narrows, there was access to the upper canyon. Tie hacking, cutting and delivering railroad ties to keep up with 19th century expansion into the West, was the catalyst for development of roads through the upper canyon, but interest in the prospect of gold drove road-building as well. The road ran through Livermore and ended with a terrifying trip down Pingree Hill. The hill was so steep that teamsters would often cut a log to drag behind the wagon as a make-shift brake.

With a way to the upper canyon, Fort Collins businessmen started clamoring for an extension of the road to North Park, at the time part of Larimer County. A number of alternatives were proposed; the winner was the North Park Toll Road, incorporated in May 1879. Samuel B. Stewart was a member of the three-person board of directors, the man given the job of managing construction of a wagon road following the existing tie trails from the base of Pingree Hill past Chambers Lake, over Cameron Pass, and into North Park. By July 1880 the road was open for business, with connections to the new mining towns of Lulu City and Teller City.

Stewart was an entrepreneur. He believed travelers would flock to his toll road and realized the value of a hotel at the junction of Pingree Hill road and the canyon toll road. On March 4, 1880, the Fort Collins Courier announced that Stewart was putting the finishing touches on his hotel, complete with a large kitchen from which travelers could get something to eat, as well as beds for spending the night. Stables and sheds were also available so that stage lines could change out their tired horses. Stewart named the hotel the Rustic House, though most people shortened it to The Rustic, and the name carried over to the little town that sprang up around it. Quickly, Stewart was advertising both his toll road and his hotel, as shown in this advertisement from the November 25, 1882 Fort Collins Courier.

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North Park Stage Line & Rustic House Advertisement, Fort Collins Courier, November 25, 1882.

The hotel was 24 feet by 31 feet and advertised as one and a half stories high. It was finished with board and batten siding (closely spaced boards, with narrow wood strips over the joints). Below is a real photo postcard of the hotel, dated August 1909, along with a close-up of the group on the porch for those of you who like period clothing.

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Rustic House, August 1909.
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Rustic House Visitors, August 1909.

By August 1909, the Rustic had changed hands a few times and in 1909 it was owned by Nathan E. Moffit. If you are interested in a detailed history of the Rustic, make sure you see A Place in Time: The Legend of the Rustic Resort by Linda Arndt Leigh. Leigh tracks the ownership of the property from when Stewart opened the Rustic House until the devastating fire in 2008.

The reverse side of the postcard carries this message, “Here is a picture of some very interesting people we met at the Rustic. . . . Part of them said they were from Kansas.”

The Rustic House not only went through a number of changes in owners, but also in name and appearance. A big change occurred in the early 1930s when the new owners, Will and Alice Richardson, refaced the building with lodgepole pine slabs. They also added five rental cabins and changed the name to the Rustic Lodge. The building went through cycles of repair and disrepair until it was finally closed in 1969 and then torn down in 1978.

The Richardson’s also built and opened a small store and gas station on the south side of the road. It opened in 1932. Below is a photograph of the store and gas station after it was expanded in the late 1940s.

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Rustic Resort, Poudre Canyon, Postmarked 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.

According to Leigh, Charles and Iva Frost bought the resort in 1947 and, over the next few years, made a number of improvements. One of the improvements was an expansion of the store, adding a café on the west side of the structure and living quarters on the back. The message on the back of the postcard is from Pink and Velma Davis, who bought the facility in 1951. They called it the Rustic Resort.

Below are three images of the resort from approximately the same period.

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Rustic Lodge, Poudre Canyon, c. 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.

This is an unusual image of the resort, showing it from the river side.

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Rustic Lodge Interior, Poudre Canyon, c. 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.
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Rustic Resort Cabins, Poudre Canyon, c. 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.

The lodge continued to change over time. Below is a photograph of it circa 1956. As you can see, the appearance has been modified significantly.

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Rustic Resort, Poudre Canyon, c. 1956.

This is an advertising postcard, with the following information on the reverse side:

“Rustic Resort. 40 miles northwest of Fort Collins on Highway 14. Pink and Velma Davies, Bellvue, Colo.

“Altitude 7,200 feet. 13 housekeeping cabins on the bank of the Poudre River, where fishing is always good. Just the spot to enjoy a restful vacation or an exciting fishing trip. General Store, Souvenirs, Snack Bar and Dining Room.”

The resort’s final chapter closed in June 2008, when a fire destroyed the store, gas station and restaurant.

Sharing the Streets: Horses and Automobiles in Fort Collins

On January 1, 2017, Scientific American ran a short article on the transition of the country from the horse to the automobile. Below is an excerpt from it:

“In one decade, cars replaced horses (and bicycles) as the standard form of transport for people and goods in the United States.

“In 1907 there were 140,300 cars registered in the U.S. . . . People and goods still travelled long distances on land by railroad, and short distances by foot or horse-drawn carriage. Ten years later in 1917, there had been a 33-fold increase in the number of cars registered, to almost 5 million. Horses were now an imperiled minority on the roads.

“Cars became popular because the price of these machines had plummeted: a Ford Model T sold for $850 in 1908 but $260 in 1916, with a dramatic rise in reliability along the way.”

In the blink of an eye, automobiles replaced horses across the country and in Fort Collins. This real photo postcard captures that transitional period in Fort Collins.

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Fort Collins Motor Co. Postcard, 223 Pine Street, c. 1916.

This is an unusual post card. It is the only postcard I have with a black border. It is also an image of Pine Street, a street that wasn’t photographed very often. I have one other Pine Street image posted here.

Below is a closer look at the image itself.

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Fort Collins Motor Co. Image, 223 Pine Street, c. 1916.

The subject of this image was probably the man in the buggy and his horse. It was probably made by an amateur photographer. Today, what makes the image interesting are the background buildings that were located on the west side of Pine Street, probably closer to Jefferson Street than to Walnut Street.

You can see three buildings in the photograph. The building on the far left is the back of one of the many out-buildings of the Forest Lumber Company. Forest Lumber was a fixture in Fort Collins for years, taking up a lot of area between North College Avenue and Pine Street. During the period of this photograph, their address was 243 N. College Avenue.

Below is a close-up of the building to the right of the Forest Lumber Co. building.

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The Palace Horse Shoeing Co. Close-up, Pine Street, c. 1916.

The Palace Horse Shoeing Co. must have been very short-lived. It doesn’t show up in any of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, city directories, or in the local newspapers. Its owner, E. W. Chickering, is listed in city directories as a blacksmith, at one time working for the Great Western Sugar Company, but he doesn’t show up as a proprietor of a business.

To the left is the largest building in the image, the Fort Collins Motor Company. This business may have started before 1909 as the Fort Collins Motor Car Co., located at 202 W. Mountain Ave. One of the partners of that business was Rae Cowdin. Cowdin is also shown as the proprietor of the Fort Collins Motor Company when it first shows up at 223 Pine Street in the 1917 edition of the Larimer County Business Directory.

The two automobiles in the photograph can place a lower limit on the date of the photograph. According to the experts at the Antique Automobile Club of America, the car on the left side of the image is most likely a 1915 Studebaker. They also think that the buggy in the photograph might be a Studebaker buggy. Prior to the automobile revolution, Studebaker was one of the biggest manufacturers of buggies and wagons in the United States. Here is a close up of the car on the right side of the image.

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1913 Ford on Pine Street, c. 1916.

The AACA is quite sure that this car is a 1913 Ford Model T. The Model T was the car that made automobiles affordable to the middle class. The 1913 model year was the first year Ford used the moving assembly line, helping to make the car even more affordable.

Notice that the engine hood, and maybe the engine itself, is missing. Possibly the car was being worked on by the Fort Collins Motor Company. Assuming that the car on the left is a 1915 Studebaker, the image could not have been made earlier than 1915.

The Fort Collins Motor Company is on West Mountain in the 1910-1911 Fort Collins City Directory. It isn’t listed in the 1913-1914 Larimer County Directory and, as mentioned, is shown on Pine Street in the 1917 directory. It is gone in the 1919 directory. The 1919 directory indicates that Rae Cowdin now owned Excide Battery Service, on the east side of Pine Street. The Fort Collins Motor Co. must have been gone before 1919.

Finally, the end of 1916 was an important time in Fort Collins history. This is when the paving of the downtown streets began. Horses were pressured to stay off the paved streets and away from downtown. The Palace Horse Shoeing Co. would probably have closed or moved by late 1916 or early 1917.

All of this information leads me to believe that the photograph was taken between 1915 and 1916.

The photograph captures the transportation transition that was occurring. We have the two automobiles behind the horse and buggy, sharing the street for a limited amount of time. We also have the horse shoeing company next door to the company that will put them out of business. Horseshoeing and livery stables were early victims of the automobile revolution.

I love this period in Fort Collins history. At some point, I will do a post that just shows images when horses, automobiles, and the trolley all shared the streets of Fort Collins.

I also love old automobiles and, with the help of the Antique Automobile Club of America, try to identify the vintage cars in my photographs. Go to the bottom of this page and click the “Autos” tag to see more posts with vintage vehicles.